Dutch Bakery, $2.25
Sometimes stepping through a doorway can be almost like traveling back in time; think of 1950s diners, Gothic churches, Colonial Williamsburg, or Cracker Barrel restaurants.
Particularly evocative are those rare places that owe their anachronistic atmosphere to genuine continuity, rather than to revival, recreation, or re-enactment. Places like Victoria, BC's Dutch Bakery.
Funnily enough, when Dutch migrants Kees and Mable Schaddelee opened Dutch Bakery back in 1956, it was a high tech vision of the future. Unsatisfied with the commercial baking equipment available in Canada, Kees had the latest technology shipped over from Europe: ball-bearing rolling pins, a mechanical dough divider, a dough spreader capable of handling 2,000lbs per hour. His attention to innovation and detail extended to the retail area, which was fitted out with the best booths, stools, and display cases available--as well as Victoria's first air conditioning system.
Little has changed in subsequent years, but the Dutch's innovations have slowly mellowed into quaintness. The decor is the same, the recipes are the same, but what seems most significant is that many of the people are the same. Kees continued to bake until in his 70s and hung around the coffee shop up until his death at age 97. His four sons and several daughters-in-law joined the business, as did many of their children, four of whom now run the show. A few other non-Schaddelee employees have been with the bakery for more than 30 years.
The same holds true for the patrons. Although in its heyday the Dutch's coffee shop served about a thousand customers every weekday, patrons never felt rushed, and many made Dutch Bakery a daily or weekly habit. It's still one of those places where it seems like 90% of the people know--and like--each other.
On the strong recommendation of an elderly couple at the next table, I had a strawberry shortcake (only available in season) and the dollar roll, a signature sweet of rolled-up sponge and buttercream swaddled in housemade marzipan: soft, sweet, and surprisingly light. Other pastry options include Parliaments, Flying Saucers, Deer Legs, and Sacher Torte. Takeaway pastries, cakes, cookies and chocolates are also available, displayed in the Dutch's original wood and glass cases.
718 Fort Street